When sixth-grade students at Ute Pass Elementary School start tying flies for their fishing rods, it’s an indication that this isn’t the old days of instructional methods.
The fly-tying exercise has multiple educational wings — not to mention the exhilaration if they do indeed catch a fish. This summer, 15 of these students, in addition to a few middle schoolers as mentors, will camp and fish at Crested Butte.
Along with the application, the potential campers will submit a meal plan for the four-day excursion.
“We’ll also do fly fishing in the lake in Green Mountain Falls with the people from Trout Unlimited,” said Miles Groth, instructor for the school’s Mountain Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Last week, representatives from Trout Unlimited shared their fly-tying skills with the students — all of whom showed intense concentration and visible dedication. “It’s about teaching them to slow down and pay attention,” Groth said.
The curriculum is enhanced with the fish tank in the classroom filled with young native greenback cutthroat trout, which the students have raised from eggs. “If they raise trout they’re much more likely to be concerned about Fountain Creek,” said Chris Briggs-Hale, the school’s principal.
The curriculum, which includes monitoring the chemical levels in the fish tank, along with the temperature of the water, is in line with Colorado State Standards.
In the age of smartphones, the curriculum has other benefits. “This experience compels the kids to want to get outside and to connect with each other,” Briggs-Hale said. “Humans need connection.”
The program is part of the $80,000 grant awarded to the school by Green Box Arts, Kirkpatrick Family Fund and the Manitou Springs School District.
The experience is part of this year’s theme of academic/scientific curriculum and the Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls in July titled “Light and Water.”